Chimpanzees and Gorillas – A Photographic Adventure.

Join me to photograph the Chimpanzees in Uganda and the Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys of Rwanda. This safari starts on June 22, 2015 and runs through July 4. Three full days with the chimps, three treks with the gorillas and one trek with the endangered Golden Monkeys. This will be my 12th trek with the Gorillas and I can share with you that each one is different and very rewarding.

Join me on a safari that could very well change the way you look at life.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Rwanda Day 3 – 5 January 2014

Mostly clear with large cloud banks largely surrounding the mountains,
60 degrees F @ 0600, warming than previous mornings due to the cloud cover throughout the night.

Today was another lengthy hike, with mud like I have not seen before.  Our goal today was the Umubano Group.  Last year this Group had three silver backs when I visited them; however, this year only two remained as the third had died of old age. I was looking forward to seeing them again, as I had heard of another small baby in the in the group.

Upon contact, we saw a baby ( some 8-9 months old) with only one foot. According to the Ranger, its’ mother and another female were fighting over the baby resulting in the baby’s foot being pulled off during early stages of infancy. Watching the baby get around today, it was obvious that she had adapted well and was totally capable of keeping up with the other gorillas in her group and was unaware that she lacked an appendage.

In doing research on the gorillas, I recall reading that they would not drink from standing water, taking all of their water from plants.  According to the literature, the gorillas would see their reflection in the standing water and it would case a bit of a scare or they would become inquisitive about this other gorilla in front of them (their reflection).  Today, I witnessed this as we watched a young gorilla play with his reflection in a small mud puddle.

Charles, the senior Silver Back of the Group (distinguishable by the red hair on his brow).
Nikon, D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 155, ISO 1250, 1/200 sec at f/5.6  Auto ISO, Altitude 9199 Feet.  This image was taken here.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200, ISO 800, 1/125 sec at f/4.5 Auto IS

We took it easy during the after noon and as luck would have it, the skies opened up and we were treated to one heck of an African rain storm. Lasting only for an hour, it was a solemn reminded of just how hard it can rain in this area and how the mountains surrounding us, make their own weather.

Cheers and happy photoing.

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Rwanda and the Masai Mara – March 2014


As I write this, I’m off to Tanzania to lead another exciting photo safari / workshop featuring the RUT season and all of the crazy activities that go on during the period of RUT. I described the RUT to someone the other day as the “Serengeti being awash in a sea of testosterone, with all animals fully involved.”

Before I kick this safari off, I wanted to toss out a teaser for my March 2014 trip featuring the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda followed by several days in the wonderful Masai Mara. While I am still pulling together the final logistical details of the trip, I can share with you that we will have two full days of gorilla treking, one day of treking for the endangered Golden Monkeys, and 5 days in the Masai Mara Plains area of Kenya. The trip will be limited to 12 people and based on the interest that I have received, it will sell out fast. For those of you whom have already requested a spot on this trip, I have your name on the list and you will be the first contacted with final details.

Photographing and viewing the gorillas and monkeys, will a moving experience for all. For the photographers, it will be fast paced and some of the most technically challenging shooting that you will likely have ever undertaken. Between the complex light levels, constant motion, and thick vegetation; you will have your hands full I will be there with you to ensure you get the most out of this trip. After our daily treks, we will spend some time visiting local villages, markets, and doing some post processing or image review.

As far as the Masai Mara goes, it is a game rich area and full of action. The term sensory overload comes to mind when photographing in this incredible area. From the big five, to exhilarating cheetahs chases, we will likely see it all.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 640, 1/125 sec at f/3.5, elevation 8497 ft.

Nikon D4,  70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 6400, 1/125 sec at f/5.6, elevation 8435 ft

Heavy bamboo made getting a clear shoot of the fast moving monkeys one heck of a challenge.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

From 10,058 meters aloft, Turkish Airlines TK10

Sorry, but I just had to do this. I’ve never been able to generate a blog posting while in flight.  Currently, flying an ‘over the pole’ route, just passing over Butte Montana, with an altitude of  1o,o58 meters  , and 1,022 km/h for airspeed (ground speed indicated), time to Istanbul will be 10.24 hours (remaining).   Total distance, this leg, is 11,045 km.  Once I land in Istanbul, another 6 hour leg will place me in Tanzania.

As luck would have it, I was upgraded to Comfort Class on Turkish Airlines TK10, LAX to Istanbul. This class is a wonderful mix of super economy plus (United), and normal business class. The seats are normal US business class seats except with lots of wonderful pluses. These include 120 volts, two USB charging ports, 12 volt ports, and FREE wi-fi. This blows the United business seats totally away.

I just completed field processing of this image below only seconds before they turned on some kind of soothing red-amber-ish lighting, so there goes my color management. Oh by the way, the chiefs were at the aircraft entrance greeting the passengers while the stewards were off doing their steward stuff. Yes, there are two chiefs dedicated to business class (first class in the normal US) and two dedicated to the Comfort Class. You gotta love it.

Another Golden Monkey shot from Rwanda posted from aboard Turkish Airlines TK10, just because I can. These monkeys were really difficult to photograph. Fast moving, on the ground and flying thru the air, coupled with this bamboo and heavy overcast skies, my camera of choice was the Nikon D4. With it’s high speed capture rate and virtually noise free imagery, it was just what the situation called for.

 Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm,  ISO 12,800, 1/125 sec at f/5.6.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Back Home from Namibia

Well, it has been about 15 days since I have returned from a killer landscape workshop that I led in Namibia. While I was gone, lots of things changed in my photo world. While it is always fun to return to Seattle and discover what little things changed, but man, change was everywhere around me upon my return. The big changes included:

1.  Nik Software is now available for $149.00 for the entire suite. Normally HDR or Viveza would cost this much alone. I use Nik products in just about every image that I process. I would suggest that you get it now, as we have no idea what Google will do with the product line.  You can get this software here.

2.  Nikon released a new, and much needed, 80-400mm Zoom. Still at an f-stop of 4.5-5.6, it sports a much faster focusing system, and Nano-crystal lens coating, making this a great safari lens for those that can’t justify the much more expensive 200-400mm.

3.  Nikon released the D7100, which returns another full stop or two more sensitive than the D7000.  Built as a pro-consumer body, this is a great camera for those interested in a 1.5 crop sensor.

4.  Posterious died with short notice. Posterious, the posting service that I used to post to my blog from the bush, was absorbed by Twitter about a year ago.  With 5 days notice, they folded their doors and left me searching for alternatives to support live blogging from the bush while I’m out on safari.

5.  The Hasselblad H5D series is now shipping to the US. After tons of trouble with the H4D series, this new release is the one that I have been waiting for. Better lens / body connections, new menu systems and weather-proofing make this a solid medium format camera that will last well into the future. I cant wait to get my hands on one.

6.  Last and certainly the least, is the big Adobe announcement for LR5. If the past trend of releases continues to be true, we might see a LR5 release by the end of June or July.  Looking at the LR5 Beta, the big improvements include:

  • Very powerful advance healing bush that allows for non-circular click and drag corrections
  • New Radial Filter for off-center vignetting and elliptical local adjustments
  • Upright in the Lens Corrections to automatically straighten photos and fix perspective
  • Smart Previews supporting off-line editing of photos
  • Grid and guide overlays for library, develop, and tethered captured
  • PNG file support
  • True fullscreen mode
  • Page numbering and layout saving in the Book Module
  • Videos can be included in slideshows
  • Windows HiDPI support
  • New smart collections criteria

I hope to release the final details on the Mountain Gorilla and Massai Mara safari (scheduled for early March), a June trip to Botswana, and Iceland in August, just as soon as I possibly can. If you are on my mailing list, you will receive advance notice of these safaris before they are posted on the web. As usual, space will be limited across all safaris, so start thinking about your desires.

I’ll post a few notes from Namibia before I depart for Tanzania again on the 12th of May, including Martini Madness. Meanwhile, I’m on the road heading to Atlanta to see my youngest daughter graduate with her second Masters. Rumor has it that she will soon be employed with a top notch consulting company in Washington DC.

Cheers and happy photo’ing